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Identifying key life-traits for the dynamics and gene flow in a weedy crop relative: Sensitivity analysis of the GENESYS simulation model for weed beet (Beta vulgaris ssp vulgaris)

Abstract : The benefits of genetically modified herbicide-tolerant (GMHT) sugar beet (Beta vulgaris) varieties stem from their presumed ability to improve weed control and reduce its cost, particularly targeting weed beet, a harmful annual weedy form of the genus Beta (i.e. B. vulgaris ssp. vulgaris) frequent in sugar beet fields. As weed beet is totally interfertile with sugar beet, it is thus likely to inherit the herbicide-tolerance transgene through pollen-mediated gene flow. Hence, the foreseeable advent of HT weed beet populations is a serious threat to the sustainability of GM sugar beet cropping systems. For studying and quantifying the long-term effects of cropping system components (crop succession and cultivation techniques) on weed beet population dynamics and gene flow, we developed a biophysical process-based model called GeneSys-Beet in a previous study. In the present paper, the model was employed to identify and rank the weed life-traits as function of their effect on weed beet densities and genotypes, using a global sensitivity analysis to model parameters. Monte Carlo simulations with simultaneous randomization of all life-trait parameters were carried out in three cropping systems contrasting for their risk for infestation by HT weed beets. Simulated weed plants and bolters (i.e. beet plants with flowering and seed-producing stems) were then analysed with regression models as a function of model parameters to rank processes and life-traits and quantify their effects. Key parameters were those determining the timing and success of growth, development, seed maturation and the physiological end of seed production. Timing parameters were usually more important than success parameters, showing for instance that optimal timing of weed management operations is more important than its exact efficacy. The ranking of life-traits though depended on the cropping system and, to a lesser extent, on the target variable (i.e. GM weeds vs. total weed population). For instance, post-emergence parameters were crucial in rotations with frequent sugar beet crops whereas pre-emergence parameters were most important when sugar beet was rare. In the rotations with frequent sugar beet and insufficient weed control, interactions between traits were small, indicating diverse populations with contrasted traits could prosper. Conversely, when sugar beet was rare and weed control optimal, traits had little impact individually, indicating that a small number of optimal combinations of traits would be successful. Based on the analysis of sugar beet parameters and genetic traits, advice for the future selection of sugar beet varieties was also given. In climatic conditions similar to those used here, the priority should be given to limiting the presence of hybrid seeds in seed lots rather than decreasing varietal sensitivity to vernalization.
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Submitted on : Friday, September 7, 2012 - 3:44:43 PM
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N. Colbach, H. Darmency, yann Tricault. Identifying key life-traits for the dynamics and gene flow in a weedy crop relative: Sensitivity analysis of the GENESYS simulation model for weed beet (Beta vulgaris ssp vulgaris). Ecological Modelling, Elsevier, 2010, 221 (2), pp.225-237. ⟨10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2009.10.011⟩. ⟨hal-00729535⟩



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